Padres acquire Barrett, cash from Cubs
San Diego sends catcher Bowen, farmhand Burke to Chicago
SAN DIEGO -- Michael Barrett certainly didn't know it at the time, but that wasn't just Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush who was knocking on his hotel-room door Wednesday morning in Irving, Texas.
It was also opportunity.
Barrett -- the embattled 30-year-old catcher who has made headlines earlier this month for his dugout skirmish with teammate Carlos Zambrano as well as a handful of defensive gaffes --- was informed by Bush that he had been traded to the Padres.
"A lot of things have happened ... a lot of things have gone on the past couple of weeks," Barrett said. "I've heard my name involved in trade rumors. I don't know it [leaving the Cubs] was inevitable. I wasn't sure what was going on."
He does now, though.
A week after being approached by Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, San Diego general manager Kevin Towers -- a familiar trading partner with Hendry -- consummated a deal that saw the Padres acquire a proven right-handed bat with some power for catcher Rob Bowen and 19-year-old Minor League outfielder Kyler Burke.
The Padres will also received $1.5 million toward the remaining $2.5 million remaining on Barrett's contract, which was a key component to the deal, Towers said. And should Barrett -- a free agent after the season -- not re-sign with the team, the Padres would get two compensatory picks in the First-Year Player Draft next June.
Barrett and Josh Bard figure to split the catching duties, with Barrett getting plenty of starts against left-handed pitchers. It doesn't mean Bard will sit more than usual, said manager Bud Black.
"Like I told Josh, we feel as though we have a great tandem," Black said. "They're both going to play. We'll see how it plays out. But we're very confident in these two guys. Michael brings a great deal of experience. We feel as though this makes us a better team as of today."
Barrett is a career .267 hitter with 95 home runs over parts of 10 Major League seasons. He was hitting .256 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 57 games with the Cubs before the trade.
"I have always admired the way he played the game," Towers said of Barrett. "A lot of intensity. You always hated seeing him come to the plate when the game was on the line. He had that knack for coming up with the big hit ... a lot of the times against us."
Not anymore, as Barrett -- who played his last game for the Cubs on Tuesday in Texas -- is now with the Padres. Barrett was in uniform for Wednesday's game at PETCO Park against the Orioles.
The Cubs decided to part with Barrett more so because of his defensive lapses -- he had five errors and eight passed balls in 55 games -- and not because of two incidents during the past three weeks.
It was June 1 when Barrett and Zambrano made news for a dugout skirmish at Wrigley Field that eventually continued into the clubhouse where a punch from Zambrano sent Barrett to the hospital for six stitches in his lip.
Then, on June 12, Barrett had an animated dugout discussion with starting pitcher Rich Hill, though that was later passed off as a "heat of the moment" argument. Hendry said on Wednesday that those incidents played no role at all in his decision to trade Barrett.
"The Rich Hill situation, that's normal Major League baseball every night," Hendry said. "It happened to be seen and blown out of proportion. Truthfully, the fight [with Zambrano] had nothing to do with it."
This is, essentially, the same message Barrett tried to convey on Wednesday when he was introduced during a press conference before the game.
"It's unfortunate some of the things that have happened to me have happened," Barrett said. "I'm looking forward to starting here as a member of this team and put all that behind me. Some of the things that happened weren't part of my character.
"I play on the edge ... a lot. Controlling myself is something I take pride in. It just seems like the last couple of years, things have happened that aren't what I'm all about. I hope to show the Padres fans and the team that this is how it is."
Truthfully, Towers said, the Padres weren't looking for a catcher. They were fine with Josh Bard and Bowen handling the duties behind the plate. But that changed last week when Hendry phoned Towers.
Towers was in San Antonio watching the Padres' Double-A affiliate play when Hendry, who sent infielder Todd Walker and reliever Scott Williamson to the Padres in 2006 in two separate deals, presented Towers with a list of available players.
It was Barrett's name that stuck out the most.
Towers had once scouted Barrett when he was a third baseman at Pace Academy before he was eventually selected in the first round of the 1995 draft.
"I think what you get in Mike Barrett is a highly intense baseball player who cares ... he wants to win," said Towers, who consulted pitcher Greg Maddux, who played in Chicago with Barrett, before making the deal.
"He protects his teammates, maybe sometimes his emotions have gotten the best of him, but I think what this guy wants more than anything is to win ballgames. I think sometimes having a little bit of an edge isn't a bad thing."
The Padres haven't spelled out a plan on how they're going to use Barrett, who hit .313 against left-handers last season and .320 against southpaws in 2005.
Bard, a switch-hitter who went into Wednesday's game hitting .253 with two home runs and 19 RBIs, figures to get plenty of playing time.
"I certainly hope Bardo isn't looking at this as a negative," Towers said. "He has done a great job of running the staff. He's never caught 130-140 games. If something happens, if there's an injury, it would be nice to have someone step in and keep us competitive. But I see these guys getting a lot of playing time."
Bowen, 26, was hitting .268 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 30 games this season. In his last game on Sunday, Bowen hit a home run against the Cubs.
Burke, who was the 35th overall pick in last June's Draft, was hitting .211 for Class A Fort Wayne. Burke had a .210 average over his first two seasons in the Padres' organization, spanning 376 at-bats.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.